As soon as the 2007-08 season came to a close with another SEC massacre of the Big 10’s Ohio State Buckeyes in the BCS Championship Game, college football fans everywhere were already making predictions about next year.
Well, with “next year” now only a month or so away, our panel of experts here at theSpread.com decided to break down our top 10 college football teams to start the 2008-09 season.
1) Georgia Bulldogs- The SEC is king considering their run in the Bowl Championship Series, so it is only fitting to give the #1 spot to the team we feel is the best in the conference. Even though we do not feel the Bulldogs will finish the season at #1 based off their tough schedule (road games at LSU, Auburn, and South Carolina), you have to give Georgia the nod until they lose a game. The Bulldogs closed out the second half of last season putting up close to 40 points per game and should not miss a beat this year. Oh yeah, did we mention that Georgia will have one of the best defensive fronts in the entire nation to compliment their amazing offense led by a possible No. 1 draft pick, QB Matthew Stafford? Sorry Ohio State fans, until they prove otherwise, Georgia is the #1 team in the land.
2) Ohio State Buckeyes- Forget all about the Buckeyes getting trounced at the hands of LSU in the BCS Title Game last season. Based off the season Ohio State had leading up to the LSU disaster, people forget the Buckeyes were in a rebuilding year in 2007-08 and should be praised for having the season they did. It was hard not to flip-flop them with our No. 3 choice, but we shall see on September 13th when the Buckeyes face off against the Trojans. We decided to go with Ohio State due to the fact they have 20 returning starters including Heisman hopeful RB Chris Wells and defensive superstars LB James Laurinaitis and CB Malcom Jenkins. In the end this could be the best Ohio State team under Jim Tressel, which includes the National Championship team that defeated the Miami Hurricanes on the memorable goal line stand.
3) USC Trojans- Stanford, Stanford, Stanford. One of the biggest upsets in college football history possibly cost the Trojans from going into this season with a chance to defend the BCS Championship. Under Pete Carroll the Trojans have reloaded and not had to rebuild on their way to seven straight Pac 10 titles. Despite a roster full of potential All American’s, this will (in USC terms) be one of their weaker teams in recent years. But they still deserve the No. 3 spot in out top 10.
4) Florida Gators- The notion that defense wins championships is probably one of the most regurgitated lines in all of sports. Well, if anyone is going to discredit the infamous line, it will be the Florida Gators. QB Tim Tebow is expected to be even better this season and with an improved defense, the Gators can be the team that rains on the Bulldogs parade with a November 1st showdown at Georgia. The defense, which was the weak spot for Florida last year, should be greatly improved and will try and keep opponents from outscoring their explosive talent on the offensive side of the ball.
5) Oklahoma Sooners- Out of anyone on this list, the Sooners have the most to prove. Despite winning 90 games in the last eight years, they have lost their last four BCS Bowl Games. Bob Stoops and his Oklahoma squad need to get back to winning in the elite Bowl Games as they did before the four-game slide. Winning the Big 12 is one thing, but to be an elite program you need to rack up wins in BCS games. This is one of the most talented teams in all of college football and despite playing some of their tougher conference foes on the road, the Sooners should claim their sixth Big 12 Title in the last nine years and get another shot in a BCS Bowl Game.
6) LSU Tigers- After destroying Ohio State in the title game last season, the Tigers were all set to dominate college football yet again under the highly recruited QB Ryan Perrilloux. Now with Perrilloux being booted from the team, LSU is going to go with either Andrew Hatch or Jarrett Lee to run the offense. Despite the off-field problems, LSU will once again have a dominating defense and should play Florida or Georgia in the SEC Championship to end the season, with the winner facing Ohio State or USC for the National Title.
7) Missouri Tigers- Missouriwas actually No. 1 in the polls before losing their final conference game against Oklahoma 38-17 in the Big 12 Championship, but they did finish the year with a 38-7 Bowl Game massacre of the Arkansas Razorback. The Tigers have two potential Heisman candidates in QB Chase Daniel and WR Jeremy Maclin to lead the offense into a potential rematch with Oklahoma for the Big 12 Championship.
8) West Virginia Mountaineers-Pat White. If anyone in college football can be a one-man show it is Mr. White. The best team in the Big East will possibly have one of the best offenses in the entire country. Alas, the West Virginia program right now is like a soap opera. They went into the final game of the regular season as a big favorite against Pittsburgh and lost 13-9, costing them a shot at the National Title. To make matters worse, head coach Rich Rodriquez made the jump over to Michigan. Despite this, we look for the West Virginia that beat Oklahoma 48-28 in the Fiesta Bowl to be the team we see on the field this year on their way to another 11 win season.
9) Clemson Tigers- With a favorable schedule and possibly one of Tommy Bowden’s best teams ever at Clemson, the Tigers could win their first ACC Title in 17 years. Six offensive starters are returning along with 8 on the defensive side to hopefully lead Clemson to live up to the preseason hype for once. After opening the season against Alabama, they play powerhouses like The Citadel and South Carolina State to start the season. It is quite possible that Clemson could be undefeated heading into the November 8th matchup at Florida State in a game that could decide the ACC.
10) Wisconsin Badgers- Wisconsin has become one of the most consistent programs in all of college football, winning nine or more games in seven of the past 10 seasons. The Badgers have 17 returning starters but face a daunting Big 10 opening schedule: Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. Wisconsin has some question marks at quarterback, but if they can somehow manage to win the opening round of the Big 10 schedule, the Badgers could take home their first Big 10 title since 1999 and return to the BCS for the first time since 2000.
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